Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki is eviscerating the latest Census data as "ludicrous" and "laughable" after it showed the size of his church was under a third of what he claims.
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According to the latest official data, his church has a mere 1772 adherents, far below what Tamaki says is more than 6000 active members.
It also puts it below both The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (4248 believers) and Jedi (20,409 believers).
In the aftermath, NZME described Destiny Church's numbers as "surprisingly low", while The Spinoff went further, describing Destiny Church as an "utterly marginal religious group".
But Tamaki is not to be mocked and he's refusing to turn the other cheek. He's publicly called out both companies' reporting as "wishful thinking" and a "left-wing hatchet job".
Tamaki says that at no point did the Census tell Destiny Church members that they could put Destiny down as a religion.
"Most of us, including myself, will have put down Christian or Pentecostal. Even I wasn't counted in the 2018 Census as a Destiny Church member!" Tamaki said in a statement on Tuesday.
"We are a predominantly Māori church and the Census utterly and totally failed Māori, which The Spinoff and its ilk conveniently forget.
"They even had City Impact Church, a majority Pakeha church, down as only having 441 members which is ludicrous. It's laughable."
Tamaki accuses The Spinoff and NZME of proving themselves "totally untrustworthy" of reporting on the truth.
"So-called objective media journalists at The Spinoff and NZHerald have clearly never attended a Destiny Church event or they would know better than to trust a census that garnered marginal participation from Pakeha and virtually nothing from Māori - a census that led to the resignation of Census boss Liz McPherson, who herself admitted her department had presided over a disaster," he said in his statement.
"What we see here is a New Zealand media that the average Kiwi cannot trust. They distort, misrepresent and advocate their world view."